EBR schools hold job fairs to find teachers for vacancies

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Shelley Olsen, a recently-hired fourth grade English and Language Arts teacher at Shenandoah Elementary School gives instructions to her students during class Thursday.
Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Shelley Olsen, a recently-hired fourth grade English and Language Arts teacher at Shenandoah Elementary School gives instructions to her students during class Thursday.

District has 60-70 vacant positions for current year

Just a week into the 2014-15 school year, the East Baton Rouge Parish school district is holding not one but two teacher fairs in an attempt to fill 60-plus vacancies, with one fair in Baton Rouge and another in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

“We are really reaching out and trying to find certified teachers,” said Millie Williams, executive director of human resources.

This year, the fairs will be at:

The school system, which has more than 42,000 students in 87 schools, annually has vacancies emerge early in the school year. Last year, the system held a last-minute job fair just before the start of school to try to head off this problem as well as subsequent fairs at schools with vacancies.

The addition of the Pittsburgh fair this year was because all teachers in that city’s public schools, even long-term substitutes, are required to be certified, meaning the area has a surplus of certified teachers seeking full-time work, Williams said. She said Superintendent Bernard Taylor, a native of Pittsburgh, had no role in the decision to hold the fair in Pittsburgh.

Williams said her recruiters also have alerted schools of education in Michigan, go-to places in years past for finding East Baton Rouge Parish teachers, about the Pittsburgh fair.

O penings for teachers include spots for elementary, early childhood, English, English as second language, science, Spanish and special education.

Those attending the fair are asked to bring multiple copies of their résumés, as well as their teaching certificates or verification from an alternative certification program.

Williams said at last count she had 60 to 70 teaching vacancies, but the total changes quickly as teachers get hired and at the same time others leave at the last minute for newly vacant jobs elsewhere.

The problem has been exacerbated by smaller graduating classes at local colleges of education, she said.

Normally, math is a persistent shortage area. This year, though, East Baton Rouge Parish began hiring teachers through a fast-track alternative certification path first launched in 2008 called “Math for Professionals.” It’s calling the local version, Education = Math Collaboration Squared, E=MC2.

Williams said 10 teachers were in the first cohort and the school system is taking applications for more. Teachers qualify if they have earned as few as 30 credit hours in math, or have a bachelor’s or an advanced degree in math or a science-related field. They also can qualify if they have passed the math version of the Praxis teaching exam.

Lisa Holland, who just started teaching an engineering design class at Scotlandville High School, has a master’s degree in civil engineering from Southern University. Unable to find work in engineering, she spent two years as a substitute teacher before hearing about the E=MC2 program and jumped at it. Although only four days into the job, she feels she’s finally found what she wants to do and is so far enjoying working with ninth-graders.

“They are pretty good because it’s a new environment,” she said. “They are eager and ready to learn and full of questions.”

To complete an online application, visit www.applitrack.com/ebrschools/onlineapp.